Fun Stuff

From the Techie’s Point of View

  • Actors are props with dialogue.
  • Beat to fit, paint to match.
  • If force doesn’t work, you’re not using enough.
  • Done is best.
  • An actor without techies is a naked person standing in the dark trying to emote. A techie without actors is a person with marketable skills.
  • And on the first day the lord said… L X 1, GO! and there was light.
  • It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.
  • EVERY theater company mirrors the Muppet show. Think about it.
  • John Wilkes Boothe should have shot an actor…
  • Love-it, Lock-it, Leave-it, NEXT…
  • Let the actors finish it.
  • I don’t make mistakes, I have unintentional improvisations.
  • Hmmm. What would a smart guy do?
  • Our techies practice safe sets and Techies do it on cue.
  • Work sucks. I’m going to the theatre.
  • Life’s a stage and we’re constantly changing the scenery.
  • Extras are props that eat…
  • Umm, ‘scuze me, your techies are showing…!
  • If we could read minds, we wouldn’t need headsets.
  • Hey, I forgot my cue sheet, oh well, I’ll make it up. I wonder if they’ll notice?

(thank you to Rebecca Phillips for sending these)

  • Audio Manager: person who stands at the back of the room staring at a board with countless knobs, screaming: “Where is that ringing coming from? It wasn’t there a minute ago!”

(From Ricky Bach)

Stage Managers & Crew

Good News, Bad News

Two stage managers, nearing the ends of their careers, were discussing the likelihood of there being some form of theatrical endeavor in the hereafter. The first consulted a friendly medium. Later the following exchange took place between the two stage managers:

SM1: “I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that there is a wonderful theatre in heaven — well equipped, spacious, plenty of wing space. In fact, there’s a show opening tomorrow night.”
SM2: “That’s wonderful! So what’s the bad news?”
SM1: “You’re calling the show.”

The Perfect Blackout

An old stage manager arrived at the Pearly Gates. As a reward for years of patience, discretion, and endeavor, St. Peter granted him a single wish.
“I’ve never seen a perfect blackout — can that be arranged?” he asked.

St. Peter snapped his fingers, and the darkness descended. There was not a hint of spill from work lights or prompt corner. There was total silence, not a whisper, not a footstep, not a pin drop — just complete silence and total darkness. It lasted 18 seconds.

When the lights came up again, St. Peter was gone and the Pearly Gates had been struck.

Break Time

Q: Why don’t they give stage managers breaks?
A: Because it’s too hard to re-train them.


Q: How many pencils does a stage manager have?
A: One. They can draw another one out of their hair if they lose it.

Light Bulb Jokes

Q: How many actors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Complain to the director at notes.

Q: How many directors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Give a note to the stage manager to fix it!

Q: How many stage managers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Pull the technical director off of a set installation to deal with it.

Q: How many technical directors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Call the master electrician at home to fix it.

Q: How many master electricians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: We don’t change bulbs, only halogen lamps. It’s a props problem.

Q: How many props masters does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Light bulb?! When did they even get a lamp?

Q: How many theatre critics does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: All of them – 1 to be highly critical of the design elements, 1 to express contempt for the glow of the lamp, 1 to lambast the interpretation of wattage used, 1 to critique the performance of the bulb itself, 1 to recall superb light bulbs of past seasons and lament how this one fails to measure up, and all to join in the refrain reflecting on how they could build a better light bulb in their sleep.

Q: How many theatre students does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Erm, what’s the deadline, cos I may need an extension.

Q: How many audience members does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three. One to do it, one child to cry and another to say, “ROSE, HE’S CHANGING THE LIGHT BULB.”

Q: How many interns does it take to change a light bulb?
A: It doesn’t matter because you’ll have to do it again anyway.

Q: How many directors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: 3…no, make that 4…on second thought 3… well, better make it 5 just to be safe.

Q: How many assistant directors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One. But he/she has to check with the director first to make sure he wants the bulb there.

Q: How many producers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Why do we need another light bulb?

Q: How many stage managers does it take to change a light bulb?

Q: How many stage managers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Where’s IATSE?

Q: How many stage managers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: It’s on my list…It’s on my list…

Q: How many IATSE guys does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One, once he puts down the donut and coffee.

Q: How many IATSE guys does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Twenty-five and a minimum of four hours, you got a @!%#&@ problem with that?

Q: How many electricians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: LAMP! It’s called a LAMP you idiot!

Q: How many lighting designers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Where’s my assistant?

Q: How many technicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Two, if they can find a lamp big enough and figure out how to get inside it.

Q: How many actors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Doesn’t the stage manager do that?

Q: How many actors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. They can never find their light.

Q: How many producers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: NONE! there isn’t enough money in the budget.

The Experiment

A renowned research institution undertakes to document the spatial-cognitive processes of intellectuals in various professions. They recruit an architect, a surgeon, and a props manager. They construct three isolation booths, completely sealed off from external interactions or stimuli. They place one guy in each booth, and give each one a set of three perfectly-matched steel balls, about three inches in diameter each. They seal the booths and return in one week.

The architect has constructed a geometrically-perfect pyramid with the balls, yielding insights into stress dynamics and materials tension. The surgeon has placed the balls in a formation that hints at the nature of the unexplored regions of the human genome, solving some fundamental questions involving genetics and DNA.

When the props manager’s booth is opened, the interior is a shambles and there are no balls to be found. Upon inquiry, the props guy says, “Okay, okay. I admit I DID lose the first ball. But I SWEAR I don’t know what happened to the second one, and besides, you only gave me two balls to begin with!”

Principles For the Actor

  • Do not listen to your fellow actors (it will only throw you).
  • Hold for all laughs — if you don’t get it, repeat line louder (face front if necessary, or laugh at it yourself).
  • Tension gets results.
  • Emotion is like an orange, you must squeeze it to get the juice.
  • A performance, like concrete, should be molded then set.
  • Your first responsibility as an actor is to find the light.
  • Do not look at your partner — You may not see what you want.
  • Always be specific, point to what you are talking about.
  • If a line isn’t working for you, change it.
  • Cultivate an attitude of hostility. (NO MORE MISTER NICE GUY)
  • Stage Managers are not actors — Ignore them.
  • Never be afraid to ad-lib to get attention.
  • Mistakes are never your fault.
  • Always find something to bitch about, no matter how small or insignificant.
  • Never arrive on time.
  • Never carry make-up; someone will always have what you need.
  • Help Stage Managers keep alert by not signing in.
  • Never help understudies (why should they steal your business?).
  • Help your fellow actors by giving notes whenever you feel it’s necessary. (If they ignore you, report them to the Stage Manager.)
  • Whenever possible, give them notes immediately before they go on — it will be fresher that way.
  • Speak your lines as if the audience had difficulty understanding the language.
  • Keep other performers on their toes by making fun of their performance.
  • Play the reality — be aware of the audience.
  • The key advantage is surprise — don’t let actors know what you’re going to do.
  • The difference between amateur and pro is that the pro does exactly the same thing for money.
  • Create your character — find your own costume.
  • Never change anything that’s working, no matter how wrong or phony it may seem.
  • When in doubt about an ad-lib, go Whoo!
  • Even if a piece of schtick doesn’t work, keep using it.

Proverbs From the Techie Bible

Proverbs – Behold my son, there is wisdom. Pay heed to these words, and in the days of thy play, in the hours of thy performing, thou shalt not be caught short. For truly, it is said, pay heed to the errors of others and you shall not make them yourself, and again, as we have been told from on old, to thine own self be true.

  • Give not unto the actor his props before his time, for assuredly as the sun does rise in the East and sets in the West, he will lose or break them.
  • When told the placement of props by the Director, write not these things in ink upon thy script for as surely as the winds blow, so shall he change his mind.
  • Speak not in large words to actors, for they are slow of thought and are easily confused.
  • Speak not in the language of the TECHIE to actors, for they are uninitiated, and will not perceive thy meaning.
  • Tap not the head of a nail to drive it, but strike it firmly with thy strength.
  • Keep holy the first performance, for afterwards you shall party.
  • Keep holy the last performance, for afterwards you shall party.
  • Remember always that the TD is never wrong. If it appears that he is, then you obviously misunderstood him the first time.
  • Leave not the area of the stage during the play to go and talk with the actors, for as surely as you do, you will be in danger of missing your cue and being summarily executed or worse.
  • Beware of actors when flying in walls, for they will stand and watch and be crushed.
  • Beware of actors during scene changes, for they are not like unto you and are blind in the dark.
  • Take not they cues before their time, but wait for the proper moment to do so.
  • Take pity on the actors, for in their roles they are as children, and must be led with gentle kindness. Thus, endeavor to speak softly and not in anger.
  • Listen carefully to the instructions of the Director as to how he wants things done– then do it the right way. In the days of thy work, he will see thy wisdom, give himself the credit, and rejoice.
  • If it is not yours, do not touch it, for surely as you do, your hand will be severed.
  • If you break it, you shall buy it.
  • It is not the question, What if something goes wrong? but, What will go wrong?
  • The question, Why do we have to sing? when doing a musical, should never be asked.
  • Do not miss your cue, for as you do, your world will crash down upon your head.
  • The only valid excuse for missing one’s cue is death.
  • Do not overestimate the audience.
  • Do not underestimate the audience.
  • Always write down your blocking notes, for if you do not, the stage manager shall punish you.
  • One must always check their props, for if thou do not, they will mysteriously disappear.
  • To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, to be late is to be replaced.
  • And above all, get carried away not with the glow-tape or thy stage will be like unto an airport.


Blue is an unlucky color for an actor to wear the world over, silver being it’s only saving relief. Certain shades of yellow, also, are considered unlucky, particularly in a tie, a vest, or a hat. It is believed to be disastrous to allow a yellow clarinet in the orchestra.

The Origin:

In the early days of theatre, blue was an extremely difficult dye color to create, and therefore was very expensive. Any theatre company spending such extravagant amounts on costumes was sure to close without turning a profit. Unless, of course, they were wearing silver, which was an indicator that the entire company was being funded by a VERY wealthy source; wealthy enough to afford silver adornments.

Green and yellow, during the era of the morality plays, were often considered a symbol of the Devil. A devil in disguise might be identified by wearing a green or yellow tie, vest, or hat. As for the yellow clarinet… I’m open to suggestions!

Professional actors consider it a bad sign if a rehearsal is perfect. The play will have a very short run after a perfect rehearsal, or will go very badly. Similarly, it is extremely unlucky to speak the tag line, or the last line of the play, during rehearsals. The line which completes the play must not be spoken until the opening night of the show.

The Origin:

After a perfect rehearsal a cast and crew tends to feel as if they are “prepared” for the production. They lose their nervous edge and adrenaline and, believing themselves to be fully prepared, stop paying close attention while on stage. The last line of a show completes the play, and a production is never complete until it is before an audience.

It is considered very bad luck to wish an actor (or director, or playwright) “Good Luck” before a performance. Instead, you should say to him or her “Break A Leg”.

The Origin:

Wishing anyone, particularly an actor, “Good Luck” is apt to fill them with confidence – feeling as though they have “luck” on their side. Confidence in an actor can quickly lead to catastrophe, as it causes them to lose focus. “Break a Leg” is a very old military term for “taking a knee”, or bending down to one knee and breaking the line of the leg. In the theatre it is a reference to “taking a bow”. To wish someone to “Break A Leg” is to ask them to give the best performance they are capable so that they may deserve to take a bow at performance end – or, to “Break A Leg”.

There is a superstition that if an emptied theater is ever left completely dark, a ghost will take up residence. In other versions the same superstition the ghosts of past performances return to the stage to live out their glory moments. To prevent this, a single light is left burning at center stage after the audience and all of the actors and musicians have gone.

The Origin:

The origin of this superstition is rooted in both practicality and further superstition itself! The practicality, of course, is that people coming into a darkened theatre cannot see what delicate costumes, sharp and pointy props, and dangerous set pieces have been left lying about, and a light is important to prevent injury, property damage, or lawsuits.

The other reason lends itself to further superstition. A “dark” theatre is a theatre without a play. There is nothing more sad to a drama artist than an empty house and a playless stage. Therefore a light is left burning center stage so that the theatre is never “dark”. It is simply awaiting the next production. 

submitted by Paul Garza, Technical Director, San Pedro Playhouse

Theatre Etiquette

We want everyone who attends a live theatre performance to thoroughly enjoy that performance.  Below are a few items, that if followed, will greatly enhance the experience for all concerned.

Please remember that this is not a movie.  The people on the stage can hear and see you.  Your reactions fuel them.  Your negative actions can also affect them.  Although you may never see this reaction, because being performers, they are skilled at hiding them, you are affecting them.  The performers and all those people behind the scenes have worked very hard to create an evening of entertainment for you.  Please show them the respect they deserve.

Also remember that the people sitting near you did not come to hear your conversation with your buddy, either in the theatre or on the phone.  They did not come to hear you rattle paper or your kid fuss.  They came to enjoy the performance.

No cell phones:  Turn Them Off!  Not silent, Off.  Any buzz, chirp, ring or flash is a distraction and extremely rude during a performance.  Do not speak or text on them during a performance.  If you must take an emergency call, leave the auditorium and only begin speaking to your caller once you are away from the rest of the audience.  Even your neat watch that chimes or beeps the hour is a distraction.

Coming and Going:  Please do not enter or leave the auditorium during a performance unless it is an emergency.  Please arrive before the performance begins. The time posted is the time the show actually starts… there are no commercials or previews!  It is the option of the theatre to prevent audience members from entering the auditorium until intermission or at least a scene change.

Noises:  You may not notice it, but candy or cough drop wrappers, whether unwrapped quickly or slowly, make a lot of noise!  Please don’t unwrap them during the performance.  If you suspect you will need one, have a supply on hand already unwrapped.

Noises, part two:  We love babies, but if they fuss or fidget or cry, we want them to be somewhere else.

Fidgeting:  Please sit still.  Ramming elbows into your neighbor or kicking the seat in front of you is highly annoying.

Sight Lines:  Be aware that hats and large hairdos impede sight lines.

Pictures:  Usually photography of any kind is prohibited during a performance.  Check with the theatre, and if they do allow you to take pictures, don’t use the flash or the video light.  If you would like a picture of the cast, ask the theatre manager.  They will probably be happy to assemble the cast after the performance for a short photo session.

Now for some Dos:

  • Do laugh in the appropriate places.
  • Do applaud with enthusiasm in the appropriate places.
  • Do tell all your friends, after the show, what a great time you had.

Theatre Related Quotes and Stuff

  • “Growth as an actor and as a human being are synonymous.” ~Stella Adler
  • “An ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words.” ~Sanford Meisner
  • “You can throw away the privilege of acting, but that would be such a shame. The tribe has elected you to tell its story. You are the shaman/healer, that’s what the storyteller is, and I think it’s important for actors to appreciate that. Too often actors think it’s all about them, when in reality it’s all about the audience being able to recognize themselves in you. The more you pull away from the public, the less power you have on screen.” ~Ben Kingsley
  • “Do not be full of yourself, but be full of your part.” ~Boucicault
  • “In your choice is your talent.” ~Adler
  • “The Play is the Master and I am it’s Whore!  ~Charles Jeffries
  • “Thus play I in one play many persons.”     ~shakie
  • “The theatre has built a whole art round the actor, based on the man and his double – the actor and his character.”  ~Jean-Louis Barrault
  • “An actor is a sculptor who carves in snow.”   ~Lawrence Barrett
  • “Acting isn’t really a creative profession. It’s an interpretive one.”   ~Paul Newman
  • “The teeth lie, the hair deceives, but the wrinkles tell the truth.”    ~Old Spanish Proverb
  • “Acting is the art of speaking in a loud, clear voice and the avoidance of bumping into the furniture.”    ~Alfred Lunt
  • “An actor is part illusionist, part artist, part ham.”    ~Oscar Wilde
  • “I love acting. It is so much more real than life.”    ~Oscar Wilde
  • “What are we going to do for the rest of our lives? Sit and watch the parade go by? Amuse ourselves with the glass menagerie?”    ~From Glass Menagerie
  • “All the world’s a stage and the men and women on it merely players.”   ~Shakespeare
  • “There is as much difference between the stage and films as between a piano and a violin. Normally you can’t become a virtuoso in both.”  ~Ethel Barrymore, 1956
  • “In London, theatregoers expect to laugh; in Paris, they wait grimly for proof that they should.”  ~Robert Dhery, 1958
  • “Like hungry guests, a sitting audience looks / Plays are like suppers; poets are the cooks / The founder’s you; the table is this place / The carvers we; the prologue is the grace / Each act a course, each scene, a different dish.” ~George Farquhar, 1702
  • “You need three things in the theatre — the play, the actors and the audience, and each must give something.”  ~Kenneth Haigh, 1958
  • “We do not go to the theatre like our ancestors, to escape from the pressure of reality, so much as to confirm our experience of it.”   ~Charles Lamb, 1823
  • “It’s called acting.” ~Lawrence Olivier to Dustin Hoffman.
  • (In attempting to research this quote, I found this on  Upon learning that his Marathon Man costar Dustin Hoffman had stayed awake for two days to look properly exhausted in one scene, he told the younger actor, “You should try acting, my boy. It’s much easier.”)
  • “Theatre takes place all the time — wherever one is — and art simply facilitates persuading one this is the case.”   ~John Cage, 1961
  • “In my plays I want to look at life — at the commonplace of existence — as if we had just turned a corner and run into it for the first time.”  ~Christopher Fry, 1950
  • “The theatre, when all is said and done, is not life in miniature, but life enormously magnified, life hideously exaggerated.”    ~H. L. Mencken, 1919
  • “The structure of a play is always the story of how the birds came home to roost.” ~Arthur Miller, 1958
  • “Great drama is the souvenir of the adventure of a master among the pieces of his own soul.”  ~George Jean Nathan, 1923
  • “It is the destiny of the theatre nearly everywhere and in every period to struggle even when it is flourishing.”  ~Howard Taubman, 1964
  • “We live in what is, but we find a thousand ways not to face it. Great theatre strengthens our faculty to face it.”  ~Thornton Wilder, 1958
  • “If you can’t act, behave!”  ~John Igo
  • “You know…I worked in the theatre for five years before I learned that ‘F***ing Electricians’ was really TWO words.”
  • “There are two impulses in theatre: to be frivolous or to make rules.” ~Tadashi Suzuki
  • “Realism is something we practice when we aren’t feeling very well. When we don’t feel up to the extra effort.” ~Robert Edmund Jones
  • “Cruelty in the theatre is unrelenting decisiveness, diligence, strictness.” ~Antonin Artaud
  • “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” ~Goethe
  • “Creativity is first of all an act of destruction.” ~Picasso
  • “When you feel ten in your heart…express seven.” ~Zeami : Japanese originator of Noh drama
  • “Embarrassment is a partner in the creative act.” ~Charles Jeffries
  • “The object is freedom.” ~Anne Bogart

Thank you to Charles Jeffries, Linda Shuler, Anna Gangai, Laurie Dietrich, and W. Chris Champlin  for providing your favorite quotes.  

Theatrical Structure

Leaps Tall Buildings In A Single Bound
Is More Powerful Than A Locomotive
Is Faster Than A Speeding Bullet
Walks On Water
Gives Policy To God


Leaps Short Buildings In A Single Bound
Is More Powerful Than A Switch Engine
Is Just As Fast As A Speeding Bullet
Walks On Water If The Sea Is Calm
Talks With God


Leaps Short Buildings With A Running Start
Is Almost As Powerful As A Switch Engine
Is Faster Than A Speeding BB
Swims Well
Is Occasionally Addressed By God


Makes High Marks On The Wall When Trying To Leap Buildings
Is Run Over By Locomotives
Can Sometimes Handle A Gun Without Inflicting Self-Injury
Dog Paddles
Talks To Animals


Runs Into Buildings
Recognizes Locomotives Two Out Of Three Times
Is Not Issued Ammunition
Can Stay Afloat With A Life Preserver
Talks To Walls


Falls Over Doorsteps When Trying To Enter Buildings
Says, Look At The Choo-Choo!
Wets Self With A Water Pistol
Plays In Mud Puddles
Mumbles To Self

Stage Manager:

Lifts Buildings And Walks Under Them
Kicks Locomotives Off The Track
Catches Speeding Bullets In Teeth And Eats Them
Freezes Water With A Single Glance

Theatrical Terms

Eternity – The time that passes between a dropped cue and the next line.

Prop – 1.  A hand-carried object small enough to be lost by an actor shortly before it’s needed on stage.  2. Anything that gets in the way of a scene change.

Director – The individual who suffers from the delusion that he or she is responsible for every moment of brilliance cited by the critic in the local review.

Blocking – The art of moving actors on the stage in such a manner as to not collide with the walls, furniture, orchestra pit or each other. Similar to playing chess, except the pawns want to argue.

Quality Theater – Any show with which you were directly involved.

Turkey – Every show with which you were not directly involved.

Final Dress Rehearsal – Rehearsal that becomes a whole new ball game as actors attempt to maneuver among the 49 objects that the set designer added at 7:30 that evening.

Tech Week – The last week of rehearsal when everything that was supposed to be done weeks before finally comes together at the last minute; reaches its grand climax on final dress rehearsal night when costumes rip, a dimmer pack catches fire and the director has a nervous breakdown.

Set – An obstacle course which, throughout the rehearsal period, defies the laws of physics by growing smaller week by week while continuing to occupy the same amount of space.

“Monologue” –That shining moment when all eyes are focused on a single actor who is desperately aware that if he forgets a line, no one can save him.

Bit Part – An opportunity for the actor with the smallest role to count everybody else’s lines and mention repeatedly that he or she has the smallest part in the show.

Dark Spot – The stage area which the lighting designer has inexplicably forgotten to light, and which has a magnetic attraction for the first-time actor. A dark spot is never evident before opening night.

Hands – Appendages at the end of the arms used for manipulating one’s environment, except on a stage, where they grow six times their normal size and either dangle uselessly, fidget nervously, or try to hide in your pockets.

Stage Manager – Individual responsible for overseeing the crew, supervising the set changes, baby-sitting the actors and putting the director in a hammerlock to keep him from killing the actor who just decided to turn his walk-on part into a major role by doing magic tricks while he serves the tea.

Lighting Director – Individual who, from the only vantage point offering a full view of the stage, gives the stage manager a heart attack by announcing a play-by-play of everything that’s going wrong. One who whines, throws fits, and says This is the last show I’m doing here! I swear to God !

Makeup Kit – among experienced community theater actors, a battered tackle box loaded with at least 10 shades of greasepaint in various stages of desiccation, tubes of lipstick and blush, assorted pencils, bobby pins, braids of crepe hair, liquid latex, old programs, jewelry, break-a-leg greeting cards from past shows, brushes and a handful of half-melted cough drops.

Stage Crew – Group of individuals who spend their evenings coping with 50-minute stretches of total boredom interspersed with 30-second bursts of mindless panic.

Strike – The time immediately following the last performance that all cast and crew members are required to watch the two people who own Makita screw drivers dismantle the set.

Actors – People who stand between the audience and the set designer’s art, blocking the view. That’s also the origin of the word blocking, by the way.

Stage Right, Stage Left – Two simple directions actors pretend not to understand in order to drive directors crazy. (No, no, your OTHER right!)

Or to put it another way ….

IN is down, DOWN is front

OUT is up, UP is back

OFF is out, ON is in,

And of course,

RIGHT is left, LEFT is right.

A DROP shouldn’t and a

BLOCK AND FALL does neither.

A PROP doesn’t and

A COVE has no water.


A RUNNING CREW rarely gets anywhere.

A PURCHASE LINE will buy you nothing.

A TRAP will not catch anything.

STRIKE is work. (In fact, lots of work)

And a GREEN ROOM, thankfully, usually isn’t.

Now that you’re fully versed in theatrical terms,

Break a leg – but not really!

Just remember: It’s only theatre until it offends someone … then it’s ART!